Written by on July 3, 2024

By Lusungu Mzembe

The Malawi Government has been asked to review drug policies in the country with an aim of integrating drug users in communities for them to become responsible citizens in the development of the country.

Mwakasungula responding to questions from journalists.
Mwakasungula responding to questions from journalists.

The organization’s chairperson Undule mwakasungula said this after meeting with the civil society organizations and journalists operating in Karonga District. He said the laws of the country do not favour   drug users and as such, they are stigmatized and neglected by their societies.

“’We are looking for ways of supporting drug users by addressing the issues of stigma and discrimination, initiate drug policy reviews and law reforms and reduce harm. We believe that punishing them is not the best solution, but we need to look at how we can help them, through counselling and rehabilitation to transform them into responsible citizens. Reintegrating them requires the efforts of all community members,” Mwakasungula said.   

Mwakasungula also emphasized the need for policy reforms because it is not possible to implement harm reduction strategies under the current legal and policy environment. He further stressed the need for community participation and commitment in finding solutions to challenges being faced by drug users.

“It is important to review our policies so that we should focus more on harm reduction and help the drug users to be integrated in the communities. Community involvement is very crucial because we cannot address issues of drugs in isolation,’’ Mwakasungula said. 

In her remarks, Gwenyth Kaponga of Karonga Debate Club (KADEC), concurred with Mwakasungula that drug users are usually neglected by many people in the society without proper help. She further thanked Mwakasungula for enlightening civil society organization on the need for supporting drug users.

‘’We are very thankful for enlightening us on this issue. We are aware that the rate of young people using drugs is growing every day because drugs are easily accessible as they are locally found, said Kaponda.

She further bemoaned lack of statistics on the levels of illicit drug availability and number of people addicted to drugs as the main barrier towards addressing challenges drug users are facing. “Having data can help come up with best solution for drug users in the district rather than sending them to prison which does not help, as most of them continue using drugs upon their release from prison,’’  Kaponda  said.

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